STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine whether there was a higher incidence of respiratory ill health in children living near to a cement works than in those from a different area, and if so whether the higher incidence was due to the use of a hazardous waste-derived fuel at the works. STUDY DESIGN: A sample of the population of children living near the cement works (the study area) was compared with a sample of children living between 9 and 19 km away from the site (the control area). SETTING: The cement works is located on the north eastern edge of a small rural town in east Lancashire. METHODS: Data were collected via the use of a health questionnaire. This was distributed through selected primary schools to families who had one or more children of primary school age (5-11 years). MAIN RESULTS: The study and control populations were comparable in terms of response rates, gender, and socioeconomic indicators. There was no significant difference in the incidence of asthma (as diagnosed by a general practitioner) between the two areas when adjustment for hayfever was made. The incidence of sore throat was significantly higher in the case area, a difference not explained by other factors. For two other non-specific indicators of respiratory health (blocked nose and sore eyes) there was a significantly higher incidence in the study area, although hayfever and mould were also significant influences. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicated that certain non-specific health indicators were more common in the children living near a cement works. This excess may be due to exposure to emissions from the site. However, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions because there are no epidemiological data predating the use of the hazardous waste derived fuel.
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